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  LOGOLOG
a weblog of wordplay by Eric Harshbarger

Scrabble, redux

So, last week, out of blue (as with most of my motivations and inspirations), I decided to start rememorizing Scrabble words. I played Scrabble competitively in the past but three years ago quit cold-turkey. But for whatever reason I woke up on a Wednesday morning and thought to myself, "I might actually like to play again."

Maybe I feel like I'm just not busy enough... what with a new Lego mosaic project just started (more on that later), my continuing work with Mind Candy, and my teaching a Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry class this semester at Auburn University. Yeah... I have waaaaay to much spare time.

Actually, I'm still not sure I will even play again... what I am sure of is that I want to start reviewing all the words again (yeah, I just might be crazy enough to memorize all of the acceptable Scrabble words... and not actually play again -- but I probably will... when I feel I'm ready).

I used to handwrite all of my flashcards for studying (the front of the flashcard would have an "alphagram", say the seven letters: AEELRST, and I would recall all the 7-letter words that are formed with those letters: ELATERS, REALEST, RELATES, RESLATE, and STEALER). I told myself that I would not lug around all of those cards again... if I were going to do this I would figure out some way to review them electronically and portably.

So, despite never having owned a handheld device (I still refuse to own a cell phone for God's sake), I researched, bought, learned how, and wrote an "alphagram quiz" program for a Palm Tungsten E2 doodad. I did all of this in about 3 days. By Saturday evening I was once again reviewing words.

I write this article one week later and am currently at about 95% recall efficiency with the first 2800 seven letter alphagrams (which encompasses about 4200 words). I can review about 500 alphagrams per hour.

I still have a looong way to go to get back to where I was when I stopped (at that time I knew about 15000 each of the seven and eight letter words -- plus all the twos, threes, fours, and most of the fives). And then I'll have even more to learn brand new if I want to try to get them all.

The 2008 Nationals are in Orlando, Florida in July. That's a relatively short drive for me. Maybe I'll be ready by then.

Or maybe I'll wake up one morning between now and then and think, "eh... screw it... I have other things to do."

-- Eric

[22 September 2007]
   
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Comments about this article:
I like the article. I myself haven't played scrabble that much, but will be using it to teach my children. I stumbled on your website looking for Fort Worth History and found you lego building the skyline. I like what you do and hopefully this will motivate my 5 and 3 year old into building even more spaceships from their lego collection.

Posted by: francine Sustaita


 
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